Abortion politics

Thus far abortion has been a quiet, almost secondary issue this political season, but maybe that is about to change.

Published August 11, 2008 8:03PM (EDT)

Are abortion politics going to remain relatively irrelevant to this 2008 election or is the issue about to bubble up again? Frequent Salon contributor Ed Kilgore, somebody I disagree with periodically but always respect, wrote a post for the Democratic Strategist about the 2008 Democratic platform statement on abortion. Kilgore writes:

The brief abortion plank begins with the most unambiguous statement of the party's pro-choice principles I can recall, and while the nuts and bolts of "abortion reduction" are supported, they are contextualized as measures that might reduce the "need for abortion" rather than the number of abortions, a formulation acceptable to pro-choice activists. The "safe, legal and rare" mantra about abortion first popularized by Bill Clinton in 1992 does not appear in this draft, and there's also no "conscience clause" explicitly expressing respect for, and acceptance of, differing views on this subject. This is probably the most forthright pro-choice plank in party history.

So there you have it: forthright and unambiguous for the party. Meanwhile, however, over at National Review's Corner, Yuval Levin noticed the effort by national anti-choicers to draw attention to ambiguities in Barack Obama's abortion stance.

I am not sure what to make of all this on the substance, but I do wonder what John McCain and national Republicans will try to make of it politically. The less this election is about the war and the economy, and the more it is about abortion or affirmative action, the more comfortable Republicans will feel.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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